Pimp My Lent/Day 22
From Deborah Kirby…
“So, she did it again after promising herself that she wouldn’t. But thank goodness it was a new day full of opportunities and, of course, challenges. But she was up to the adventure.”
“Smoke” – a Pimp My Lent first – a screenplay. Went a leeettle dark on this one….
We hear SOUND from a LOUD TV – DIALOGUE from “Law & Order” type show: tough-guy cop interrogates sleazy suspect.
TV noise continues as we fade in to a swirling yellow cigarette-smoke haze. Throughout, the smoke in the room becomes progressively thicker, but we never see anybody smoking.
INT. HALLWAY, SMALL HOME – LATE NIGHT
TV noise gets louder and louder as we float down a darkened hallway – over the dirty wood floor, bare dingy walls – heading towards a cramped living room lit only by dim table lamp and the flickering TV screen.
The TV volume is LOUD. This cruddy old house hasn’t been cleaned in a long while, and hasn’t been redecorated since the 1970s. The TV is old and huge – not quite a console but close. The furniture is heavy, faded with age and wear.
SOUND of a deep cough.
OLD WOMAN (older than dirt) sits slumped in an old green recliner, watching TV. There’s a coffee can by her chair, lined with paper towels. Every now and then, she will hock up a gob of lung juice, lean over and spit it into the can.
There’s a matching recliner to her left, also worn. Shoved between the recliners is a heavy wooden coffee table with an amber glass ashtray built into the top. The ashtray is nearly full with cigarette butts and ashes.
Old Woman coughs again.
Ashes and cigarette butts drop out of the darkness above, from some unseen source (not the ceiling). They fall into the ashtray, some spilling onto the table and floor. Old Woman doesn’t notice, doesn’t respond.
INT- INTERROGATION ROOM – NIGHT
The TOUGH-GUY COP moves in close to the SLEAZEBAG SUSPECT, who sits at the table, sweating. The cop bends down menacingly, speaks low into the suspect’s ear.
The OLD WOMAN moves forward in her chair, straining to hear.
She jacks the volume even higher. She coughs and hacks. A clump of cigarettes and ashes down fall from the darkness onto the ashtray and table.
Maw! Turn it down! …Maw!
Old Lady turns the TV down. Listens: did she hear something in the darkness? She cranks the volume up again
SOUND of a WET WHEEZING GASP – like an emphysema patient inhaling.
Suddenly CARR (70) emerges from the chair as if pushed out of the fabric. He sits slumped over in his worn pajamas and stained bathrobe, wearing a canula (breathing apparatus) in his nose, tethered to a green oxygen tank on a cart at the side of his chair.
OLD WOMAN is not happy to see Carr.
A beat. They look at each other. A bet. They watch TV.
ON THE TV
INT – BEDROOM – NIGHT
The tough guy cop lies face down just a sheet barely covering his ass. He’s explaining to his RIDICULOUSLY YOUNG, LONG-SUFFERING GIRLFRIEND that he’s married to his work. The cop coughs. He coughs again.
(commenting on TV)
He’s on his way out.
He coughed. On TV, you see somebody cough, it’s all over. It always starts with a cough. ‘Cept if somebody’s pregnant, then it starts out with ‘em throwing up.
What? What? What? Turn it down, Maw! I said turn it down!
Go to hell! You never bother with me ‘less my shows’re on.
They’re all the same – you see one, you already know exactly how the rest of them will –
(She turns up the volume)
Turn that down RIGHT NOW!
Carr coughs. Old Woman coughs. Cigarette butts falls into the ashtray. There’s blood in Carr’s palm. He wipes it on his robe.
(muttering, turning it down)
…Wish the hell you’d go back to wherever you came from.
Where did you come from?
I don’t know…. Doesn’t feel like I ever left. I really leave?
Well if you didn’t, you owe me for a goddamn funeral.
Who-all came? What suit’d you put me in?
I hated that suit.
Don’t look at me. Your damn sister picked it out.
Dang it. That thing made me look huge.
(she looks at him)
I’d lost all that weight. You could’ve at least – Hell, you coulda have buried me in the brown suit, the one from our wedding.
Cigarette butts and ashes fall. Carr and Old Woman cough. He has blood and bits of tissue in his hand. Wipes it on his robe.
I coulda fit into my wedding suit, sure enough. With room to spare.
Iddn’t that something? …That is something
They return to watching TV. Beat.
Okay, see, that gal there, she did it. They always show the one who did it after the theme music and before the first commercial.
Why are you here?!
You know…I don’t know.
You aren’t here to…. It’s not my time, is it?
(he doesn’t know)
Eye god, I hope this don’t mean I’m stuck with you for all time and eternity..
A little of you goes a long way, Carr. And thirty-six years of you was an awful plenty.
You old- I took good care of you! I worked myself to a nub for you – and your child!
Don’t say – !
Shhh! Don’t mention –
Wasn’t even mine, and I raised her up!
Damn you, shut up before –
She coughs, huge. A clump of cigarette butts and ashes falls. Carr coughs, bleeds, wipes it on his robe.
Goddamn yew, yew stoopid bitch! I’ll put a pump-knot on your head!
BEANIE (early 20s) enters. Thin, mean, ridiculous 1960s white-man afro. He wears a t-shirt with the sleeves cut out and cut-offs, tube socks and sandals. Beanie has a tracheotomy tube taped to his throat. He has to cover it in order to speak.
You go on outta here, Beanie! You hear me? Outta here, right now!
Beanie pulls back his fist, aiming to hit Old Woman in the arm. He’s dizzy. His aim is off and he hits the side of the chair, raising a cloud of dust and ash. She throws the remote at him, hits him in the forehead.
Go back to hell, Beanie Layne! Nobody wants you here!
I’ll put you in a headlock ‘til your eyes hang out your skull!
Beanie advances, but doesn’t have the air to fight. Carr laughs and laughs. All three cough. Cigarette butts and ashes fall. Carr wipes blood on his robe. Beanie coughs and wets himself a little (enough to show).
Had to open your damn mouth. Look. What. You. Done. Now.
That’s him? That’s your “gorgeous real man, Beanie Layne?”
(laughs. To Beanie)
I’m sorry. But she — all this time, she’s been –
She’s been saying you looked like Tom Selleck’s prettier brother. Wondered how that could be, seeing as – Well, my god, let’s just say it: the two a’you had a very ugly child.
Never wanted no kids and she knew it. She was out to trap me.
(Kicks Old Woman’s chair)
“I been fixed, Beanie. I cain’t have no kids, Beanie. Come on, Beanie, let’s go bareback tonight!” Worthless lying LIAR! I shoulda throttled you!
Carr laughs. Beanie kicks Carr’s chair. He coughs. They all cough, same consequences. Cigarette butts and ashes fall.
(to both men)
Why are you here! Nobody asked you to come here! Why are you here?
Like I know? Ain’t nobody in this world I never did wanna see again worse’n you.
She named her Homotensia.Your kid.
It is a family name.
Homotensia? I’m a’open you up and taken a garden rake to your insides!
Hah. Doctors beat you to it.
(coughing, to Carr)
Don’t you go ‘round telling my business, Carr!
She’s about eat up with it.
Good. Serves you right! Nobody never liked you in this world!
That’s a damn lie! I had plenty of friends…. I had a friend.
Old Woman coughs and coughs. Cigarette butts and ashes. And then KIMMY, age 13, enters. She wears jeans and a button-down – 1950’s tomboy style. Most of Kimmy’s hair has fallen out in clumps. Her face is burned red from radiation, her skin peeling and hanging off in places.
That’s my kid? She don’t look half-bad.
Hey there little girl…
Eww! I am not your kid! Eww!
(sees Old Woman)
Is that…? Daaaang, girl. Is that you? What the heck happened? Lor-dee, life didn’t turn out a’tall good for you, did it?
It’s your fault, Kimmy!
Me? I only knew you back when we was 12, 13 years old – ‘til my folks moved us to Cleveland to get me away from you.
You taught me to dip snuff, light up grapevine. YOU done this to me, Kimmy Stevens!
Coughing, cigarette butts, ashes, same biz. Carr spits up blood and tissue. Beanie wets himself. Kimmy loses more hair – and some teeth.
I never woulda ended up –
if you hadn’t of showed me how to light up grapevine! My mama warned me about you, she – My mama – Oh, no!
Old Woman inhales big and then coughs like her lungs are coming up. Carr, Beanie, and Kimmy are coughing, bleeding, peeing, losing body parts, etc. More and more butts and ashes fall.
That you, Baby Girl? Time to come on in. Dinner’s waiting…
Old Woman reacts, fearful. Carr, Kimmy and Beanie are gone. Vanished. Old Woman knows what’s coming and can’t escape, doesn’t have the strength to get out of the chair. The smoke and ash in the room is so thick, it’s hard to see.
Gasping, sliding noise as MOTHER enters, a terrifying, shadowy figure made of smoke and dim, dirty light. She’s blind, reaching for Old Woman with a dozen arms, each hand holds a burning cigarette. Mother’s shuffling towards her, horrible gasping breathing as she calls out for “Baby Girl.”
Old Woman cowers in her chair, and is slowly overcome, gasping for air, unable to breathe, unable to scream.